MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The man accused in the abduction and murder of Memphis jogger Eliza Fletcher and a prior rape could face life in prison without parole if convicted, a judge says.
Cleotha Abston-Henderson faced a judge in Memphis on Thursday on charges related to a 2021 rape. Though a police report on the attack was taken in September of that year, he was not linked to the case until Fletcher’s body was found in 2022 — about a year later.
He now faces charges related to three criminal cases: the Eliza Fletcher abduction and murder, the 2021 aggravated rape and an identity theft case.
Judge Lee Coffee said under Tennessee law, Abston-Henderson would be considered a “repeat violent offender.”
“What that means, Mr. Abston, if you’re convicted of either the aggravated rape or especially aggravated kidnapping by a jury, this court would have to sentence you to life without parole,” Coffee told the defendant.
A $1,428,500 bond had been set by a judge before Abston-Henderson was in custody. Thursday, he told the court that he would not be able to make bond, had no property and no money in the bank.
Lawyer Jennifer Case of the Public Defender’s Office will continue as his attorney. She said she is considering a mental evaluation for her client.
Abston-Henderson is set to report to court again Nov. 4.
In 2000, as a juvenile, Abston was convicted of kidnapping Memphis attorney Kemper Durand, who has also been linked to Fletcher’s family. Abston was sentenced to 20 years and was released in 2018.